1-O-Octadecyl-2-O-methyl-glycerophosphocholine (ET18-OCH3) is an ether lipid with selective antiproliferative properties whose mechanism of action is still unresolved. We hypothesized that since ET18-OCH3 affects a wide variety of cells, its mechanism of action was likely to involve the inhibition of a common widely used pathway for transducing growth signals such as the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade. To test this, we established conditions whereby quiescent MCF-7 cells took up ET18-OCH3 in sufficient quantities that inhibited cell proliferation subsequent to the addition of growth medium and examined the activation of components of the MAPK cascade under these conditions. ET18-OCH3 inhibited the sustained phosphorylation of MAPK resulting in a decrease in the magnitude and duration of activation of MAPK in cells stimulated with serum or EGF. ET18-OCH3 had no effect on the binding of EGF to its receptors, their activation, or p21ras activation. However, an interference in the association of Raf-1 with membranes and a resultant decrease in Raf-1 kinase activity in membranes of ET18-OCH3-treated cells was observed. ET18-OCH3 had no direct effect on MAPK or Raf-1 kinase activity. A direct correlation between ET18-OCH3 accumulation, inhibition of cell proliferation, Raf association with the membrane, and MAPK activation was also established. These results suggest that inhibition of the MAPK cascade by ET18-OCH3 as a result of its effect on Raf-1 activation may be an important mechanism by which ET18-OCH3 inhibits cell proliferation.
X Zhou, X Lu, C Richard, W Xiong, D W Litchfield, R Bittman, G Arthur